TravelKiwis South Island, New Zealand Sep 2021

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1. Posted by TravelKiwis (Budding Member 13 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Would love any tips, places of interest for our 1 month trip around the South Island of New Zealand in September 2021

2. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2410 posts) 6w 1 Star this if you like it!

By all accounts it's lovely there without all the international visitors.

Looking at your map you already have a good route planned. All I'd change is, if you find you're making good progress in the time available, head back to Picton from the West Coast via Nelson Lakes, or Golden Bay and Abel Tasman NP.

In Oamaru the Steampunk place is a bit overhyped, but there's an excellent cafe The Galley on the waterfront.

Spend time exploring the hikes off the Milford Road, between Te Anau and Milford Sound. Similarly, on the other side of the range, from Queenstown do head down to Glenorchy and explore.

Queenstown is normally a bit too touristy for some people; we've found staying at the Top 10 park at Arthur's Point a few k's out of town is good for us, close enough but far enough away. Nice stroll by the Shotover river too, where you can watch the jetboats. Lots of other good walking round here too - Queenstown Hill, or the path up through the woods to the Gondola station, or drive up to the Remarkables ski area and walk from there.

In Wanaka the cinema is quirky, well worth a visit. Wanaka's also a good base for Mount Aspiring NP. If you're happy with a gravel road with fords, the Rob Roy glacier walk from Raspberry Creek car park is good.

At Franz Josef the "new" hot pools place is meant to be good. A helihike onto either Fox or Franz is a blowout expensive treat but in my opinion worth it.

If you're killing time in Picton waiting for a ferry, the chippy next to the fire station is excellent - try the seafood platter.

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5667 posts) 6w 2 Star this if you like it!

A few additions to the excellent suggestions Andy already gave:

The entire trip, but particularly the initial days until Lake Tekapo, feel like a lot of driving around. You're on the road almost every other day. You might have the experience that this way of travelling works for you, but just in case: if you're not used to setting such a schedule, consider having fewer driving days by taking longer breaks in fewer places. (E.g. Lake Pukaki is gorgeous, but staying there overnight (I wasn't even aware there was a place to do so) feels like a stretch, and I'd rather recommend an extra night at Tekapo or Mt. Cook.)

Delicious Dutch buttercake at the "village bakkerij" in Picton!

Lake Tekapo is easily my favorite spot in the entire world. Good on you for staying there for two nights. Excellent hot chocolate at the observatory cafe at the top of Mt. John! The Lake Tekapo / Mt. Cook area is another place from which you can do a heli-hike to the glaciers, which I can confirm is an expensive but extremely worthwhile experience. If you're at all considering that, jump on the opportunity to do so when you hit good weather, since it took me three visits before weather conditions were favorable.

Staying three nights at Milford Sound feels like a lot. I've been to Milford Sound twice, once on a daytrip and once with an overnight cruise there - which was excellent - but that cruise in particular was followed by a looong morning and afternoon waiting for the bus back to Te Anau, and that taught me that there's really not much else to "do" there, besides fighting a hopeless battle against the sandflies. One of the few places in New Zealand where there aren't endless easily accessible hiking trails leading in all directions. I'm guessing you're staying at the Lodge, and planning on hiking the last section of the Milford Track as a daytrip or somesuch? </jealous> :)

At Queenstown I love the One Mile track hike up along old waterpipe (starts at Lomond Crescent. If you're active hikers, the hike onward toward Ben Lomond was amazing as far as I did (not till the top, as I started too late in the day; don't make that same mistake!).

I'm assuming you have friends / family in Rangiora that you go there twice? I've never been, but it doesn't otherwise strike me as the sort of place that's a high priority for visiting.

A change to your route to consider, though this is of course up to personal preference: Nelson and the Nelson Lakes area (they have kakas!), with possibly a sidetrip to Abel Tasman, rather than Oamaru, Dunedin and the Catlins, as I was personally underwhelmed with all three of the latter (Purakaunui Falls is admittedly spectacular, but that was really the only highlight for me). This has the additional benefit that you could drive over gorgeous Lindiss Pass from Mt. Cook to Queenstown.

4. Posted by TravelKiwis (Budding Member 13 posts) 6w 1 Star this if you like it!

Thanks Sander and Andy,
much appreciate your comments and you both have provided some food for thought. We have spent considerable time in the Nelson/Marlborough regions which is why we are skipping this trip. We do have a friend in Rangiora so are catching up with her twice.
We will definitely be making changes to our plans, so a big thanks for taking the time to comment.

5. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2410 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Sander

At Queenstown I love the One Mile track hike up along old waterpipe (starts at Lomond Crescent.

Thanks Sander for that one - I too like that route but you've taught me its name.

This enforced pandemic idleness is really making me want to get back to NZ.

6. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1603 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Quoting AndyF

This enforced pandemic idleness is really making me want to get back to NZ.

And here we are, desperate to get away!! Our last international flight was 570 days ago (back to NZ from LA) - I don't think we've ever spent such a long uninterrupted time in NZ.

On the plus side, just about everything else is carrying on as usual - a facemask on public transport (buses, trains, internal flights, taxis) is probably the only concession to Covid.

7. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2410 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Borisborough

Quoting AndyF

This enforced pandemic idleness is really making me want to get back to NZ.

And here we are, desperate to get away!! Our last international flight was 570 days ago (back to NZ from LA) - I don't think we've ever spent such a long uninterrupted time in NZ.

On the plus side, just about everything else is carrying on as usual - a facemask on public transport (buses, trains, internal flights, taxis) is probably the only concession to Covid.

After some counting and taking my shoes off, my last international flight was 845 days ago. (This could be a new game!) I think it was easter of 2019 we went to Ukraine, to see Kiev and Chernobyl with some friends. Then began my deliberate "no fly year" to lessen my environmental impact and be frugal after spending the next 6 years motoring budget on a Tesla.

Fortunately Charlotte snuck in two more international trips, just getting back from Costa Rica with her mum before covid closed things down.

We've been lucky. No booked trips were impacted; in any other year we'd surely have lost money.

Life here is now similar to yours - the measures are mostly down to mask wearing, all businesses back open, though some people are being more careful than others. 30,000 cases a day seems acceptable if they're not dying in large numbers! A change in politicians means the pro business faction is getting its way, and stuff anyone who gets long covid (and all the other impacts like brewing new variants).

In theory I could travel internationally, in practice that would be irresponsible and I don't want to be that guy. Naturally many of the sunshine holiday crowd put their sunshine and lager ahead of public health.

8. Posted by TravelKiwis (Budding Member 13 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Quoting AndyF

[quote=Sander]

This enforced pandemic idleness is really making me want to get back to NZ.

Its been 514 days for us since our last overseas trip.

We returned to NZ from Europe in November 2019, we had been away 4 years. We were heading back to France in March 2019. We got as far as Perth, Australia and spent a week there as the pandemic gained momentum. Our flights from Vietnam to Paris were cancelled and we returned to NZ March 20, 514 days ago. We are booked to go to Brisbane mid-December and hope to carry on back to France where our car, clothes etc are awaiting, that is Plan A. We do have Plan B, C and D if a return to Europe isn't wise.
Luckily we have places in NZ we have yet to visit, so we are taking the opportunity to visit our backyard.

9. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1603 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Borisborough

On the plus side, just about everything else is carrying on as usual - a facemask on public transport (buses, trains, internal flights, taxis) is probably the only concession to Covid.

I spoke too soon - the whole country's going into level 4 lockdown in three hours. A single possible delta-variant case in Auckland.

10. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2410 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

Having come this far, a fast lockdown is the right thing to do. A shame they've suspended the vaccinations though, as it's all treading water until the population is jabbed.